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Mellorado: identity, heritage and transmission

Do Prado, Paula Gabriela, Design Studies, College of Fine Arts, UNSW


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  • Title:
    Mellorado: identity, heritage and transmission
  • Author/Creator/Curator: Do Prado, Paula Gabriela, Design Studies, College of Fine Arts, UNSW
  • Subjects: Contemporary art; Identity; Archive; Textiles; Family archive; Migration; Post colonial
  • Resource type: Thesis
  • Type of thesis: Masters
  • Date: 2013
  • Supervisor: Williamson, Liz, Design Studies, College of Fine Arts, UNSW
  • Language: English
  • Permissions: This work can be used in accordance with the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.
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  • Description: Mellorado explores the interconnections between family, identity, culture and heritage, the impact of migration and travel; and cultural transmission. An exploration of my personal and family history, supported by two substantial periods of field study in Montevideo, Uruguay, provided the starting points for this research. The research represents my continuing interest in the experience (and inherent politics) of hybrid identity by engaging with my mixed African, Uruguayan and European ancestry. The basis for the ideas explored in this paper and accompanying new body of work draws on links made between family narratives and significant cultural and historical events such as the Uruguayan civic-military dictatorship (1973-1985), the Atlantic Slave Trade and the Australian and Uruguayan Bicentenaries 1788-1988 and 1811-2011 respectively. Adopting the standpoint of both researcher and subject, I investigate the role of the personal archive and the autobiographical within contemporary art practice. I have contextualised my own work alongside other contemporary artists (who also integrate biographical references within their work) as a way to explore the complexities of identity and culture. The work of contemporary artists in relation to the archive are examined as well as works specifically by Latin American artists, specifically Cecilia Vicuña, Eugenio Dittborn and Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons. Common to the artists examined is the concept of a continual rehearsal of the connections between personal and cultural memories. The process of rehearsal brings the traditional into the contemporary and functions not so much as a challenge to the past, but to the present and/or a possible future. Post-colonial theoretical perspectives on displacement and diaspora are explored in relation to the use of autobiographical references and ancestral histories. This serves to draw out the political undercurrents (deliberate or not) in work that both highlights the complexity of cultural identity and gives voice to marginal narratives. By its very nature, the creation and dissemination of art is a form of cultural transmission, a product of the specific conditions under which it is made. Mellorado translates my ancestral investigations and experience of migration into an exploratory visual language, simultaneously questioning and reaffirming a sense of belonging.

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